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Manual or automatic: which transmission is right for you?

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Are you in the market for a new car and wondering whether to get one with a manual or automatic transmission? To help you make the best choice, here are some of their respective advantages.

Manual
Some car owners enjoy the full driving control offered by manual transmissions. For others, the lower price tag may be a stronger incentive to go manual.

Manual gearboxes are less expensive, put less strain on your brakes and are cheaper to repair. In addition, they tend to be more fuel-efficient. However, automatic transmission technology is catching up and some automatic models now offer comparable fuel economy.

Automatic
The main advantage of automatic cars is that they’re less stressful to drive than their manual counterparts, especially in dense traffic conditions.

Automatic transmissions prevent cars from stalling when you’re stuck inching along the highway or when you want to advance at a green light. In addition, they’re simply easier to use and switching gears is always precise and fluid.

In the end, the best choice for you depends on your preferences.

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Drive safely this summer

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Did you know that the highest number of fatal car accidents occur in July and August? The golden rule, as we all know, is to slow down! But going beyond the issue of speed, here are a few tips for safe summer driving.

Before leaving, answer any text or voice messages, choose the radio station or CD’s you’d like to listen to and adjust the volume and the interior temperature of the car. All of this should be done to avoid any “primary” distractions while driving.

When the sun is in your eyes be sure to slow down and keep your distance in order to have more brake time. If you’re blinded by headlights at night, look ahead and slightly to the right. Cleaning the inside of your windshield will also help — a dirty windshield increases glare.

During periods of heavy rain, put your headlights on low beam in order to be seen from the front as well from behind or park in a safe place. If an animal suddenly appears on the road in front of you, hold the steering wheel firmly, do not swerve, sound your horn and press firmly on or pump the brakes. An insect in the car? Stay calm and open the windows if you have the controls on your armrest. Stop the car as soon as possible, open the windows, if you haven’t already done so, and with the help of an object, guide the insect slowly and gently out of the vehicle.

Finally, check the air pressure in your tires on a monthly basis; under-inflated tires wear more quickly. Don’t drive all summer with your winter tires as they have less road adherence, especially in water; braking distance is a third longer and your gas consumption will be higher. Change your windshield wipers every year; dried out rubber causes streaks of water which reduce visibility.

Be careful this summer and remember: a distracted driver is a dangerous driver.

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A history of roads in Virginia: The secondary system

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Highways and road signs were vastly improved by the 1930s.

It was against this background that the General Assembly in 1932 approved a means by which the counties could be relieved of road construction and maintenance responsibility. The “Byrd Road Act” inspired by the former Winchester senator who two years before had completed a term as governor, authorized the establishment of the state “secondary” road system. It permitted each county, if it wished, to give its road responsibility to the Highway Commission. One economist estimated that this action would reduce rural taxes by $2,895,102 annually.

Four counties – Arlington, Henrico, Nottoway and Warwick – chose to keep the responsibility; the other counties joined the new secondary system. In 1933, Nottoway reversed its earlier decision and joined the system. Years later, Warwick gave up its county status to become a city that eventually merged with Newport News. Arlington and Henrico counties continued to operate their own local roads.

When the secondary system was established, it totaled 35,900 miles. It included 2,000 miles hard-surfaced, 8,900 miles with soil or gravel surfaces, and more than 25,000 miles, or almost 70 percent, of largely unimproved dirt roads. Some counties had no hard-surfaced roads at all.

Within a decade, the amount of hard-surfaced roads had tripled, the mileage of soil or gravel roads had doubled, and the unimproved roads had been reduced by almost half. With the arrival of the secondary system, the main roads for which the state had been responsible became known as the “primary” highway system.

In August 1939, with motor vehicle registration approaching a half million, Commissioner Henry Shirley reported that “The demand for a road that can be used throughout the year is becoming greater and greater, and such a road has become a necessity. Practically all horse-drawn equipment has vanished from the highways, and motor equipment taken its place, requiring a road that can be traveled the year-round.”A year later, Shirley reported another development that was to become a major part of road operations in Virginia and elsewhere. “All the main highways are being marked with traffic lines, and the system adopted we hope will be the means of saving many lives. Under no condition should a vehicle cross a solid line when it is next to the vehicle, or two solid lines,” he said.

Despite the precautions, however, safety problems continued to trouble highway engineers as the number of autos grew. Brig. Gen. James A. Anderson, who had taught civil engineering and been dean of the faculty at VMI, was on furlough from the academic world and was serving as coordinator of the State Defense Council at the time of Shirley’s death in July 1941. Anderson was appointed highway commissioner, a position he held until his retirement in 1957.

“Accidents on the highways are increasing daily, and every care and precaution within the power of the commission is being taken to reduce this heavy toll of life,” Anderson said shortly after his appointment. “It is imperative that something be done to reduce the speed of automobiles on the highways, and to educate the drivers to the courtesy of the road.”

Next up: Another World War Begins

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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A history of roads in Virginia: Financing the roads

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Wet subgrade is removed in an Amherst County project.

After the war, the road development program regained momentum and sought to keep up with the growing popularity of the auto. More than 25,000 vehicles would be added to the state’s roads in a year’s time. Inevitably, questions persisted about how to raise additional highway revenue to meet the mounting needs.

The state Constitution of 1869 had prohibited any state debt except to meet casual deficits in the revenue, to redeem previous liabilities, or to protect the state in the event of insurrection or war. The same restriction remained in a revised Constitution of 1902, but a later amendment, pushed by the Good Roads Association and approved by 61,000 votes in a 1920 referendum, had permitted the legislature to issue bonds to build or repair roads. Statewide political debate developed about using that permissive borrowing power, however.

State Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr. of Winchester, chairman of the Virginia Senate Roads Committee, opposed bonds and urged the levying of a tax of three cents on a gallon of gasoline to produce the revenue. Early in 1923, Gov. E. Lee Trinkle called an extra “roads” session of the General Assembly to decide a course of action. He recommended a temporary “pay-as-you-go” policy until the question of bonds could be considered again by the voters in a referendum.

The legislature approved the Byrd gasoline proposal and ordered that a suggested $50 million bond issue be submitted to referendum in November.

By a margin of some 46,000 votes, the citizens this time rejected the bond issue idea in what was considered in many ways a victory for rural voters. Only 19 counties voted for the bond issue, while it won approval in 17 of the state’s cities. The gasoline tax was destined to become the largest single source of revenue for  road building and maintenance and was to be increased gradually over the years. At the national level, a gasoline tax approved by Congress was to become the principal revenue source for the federally aided road program as well.

During the debate about financing, Virginia’s highway organization continued to be refined. In 1922, the legislature directed that the state be divided geographically into eight highway districts and that available funds be distributed among them in equal shares. Other organizational changes in the commission led to the appointment of Henry G. Shirley, who had been Maryland’s highway administrator, as chairman. Coleman stayed as highway commissioner until his resignation in 1923, and later the positions of chairman and commissioner were combined.

In 1927, as part of a reorganization of state government, the Department of Highways was formally established as a state agency, although the commission staff had been called the “highway department” since the outset. As disconnected sections of improved roads were linked into continuous long- distance routes crossing many states, travelers found themselves steadily more bewildered by a confusing array of directional and informational signs. There was little continuity or standardization from state to state, and it was easy for motorists to get lost in unfamiliar territory.

At the request of the American Association of State Highway Officials, the U.S. secretary of agriculture appointed a committee in March 1925 “to undertake immediately the selection and designation of a comprehensive and uniform scheme for designating such routes in such manner as to give them a conspicuous place among the highways of the country as roads of inter-state and national significance.”

It was this move that led to the beginning of route numbers and to uniform signs for the convenience of motorists throughout the nation, and that produced greater continuity in marking Virginia’s roads. The basic plan provided generally for assigning even numbers to east-west routes and odd numbers to north-south roads.

By 1930, a total of 386,664 motor vehicles were registered in the state. The license tax produced $6,564,000 in revenue, and the gasoline tax produced $7,251,000. The state highway system had been increased to 7,191 miles.

The counties, however, still were plagued by problems of improving and maintaining the local roads for which they were responsible. Most of those roads remained in extremely poor condition. Few counties had engineers on their staffs, and not many had the necessary equipment.

And yet about two-thirds of the state’s workers earned their livelihoods from the land and faced the continuing need of hauling farm products to market. The Depression that swept the nation brought more serious problems, and most rural Virginians had little money to pay the property taxes that had continued as the main source of income for the county roads.

In Richmond and in the district highway offices that had been established around the state, adjustments were made in road operations to aid as many families as possible during the economic crisis of the Depression years.

During the fall of 1931, the commission found that under normal work schedules it could provide employment and wages for only a few additional workers. But a “stagger system,” providing jobs for one force of men one week and another force the next week and continuing the procedure through the construction season, made jobs and income available for 8,000 additional workers. The commission kept this system in effect throughout the Depression.

Next up: The Secondary System

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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10 tips to protect your car from thieves

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According to the National Insurance Bureau, a car is stolen every 6.5 minutes in the United States. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of getting your car stolen, here are some precautions you can take to hinder would-be thieves.

1. Never leave your car running and unattended, even if it’s in your driveway.

2. Don’t leave your key inside your car and never hide a spare inside or outside the car. Thieves know to look for magnetic boxes.

3. If you have an electronic key, carry it in a pouch that blocks radio frequency identification (RFID) signals. At home, don’t leave it near the front door: electronic keys can be cloned from the other side of the door.

4. Always lock your doors and close all the windows when you’re not in the car.

5. Look for well-lit and busy parking lots. If there’s an attendant, only leave them your car key, not your entire keychain.

6. Install a good antitheft system and make sure your remote starter doesn’t compromise its usefulness. Marked parts, blinking security lights and steering wheel locks are other devices that will deter thieves.

7. When you park, turn the steering wheel all the way to one side, lock the steering wheel and engage the handbrake. This will make theft by tow truck more difficult.

8. Don’t attach a label with your name and address to your keychain.

9. Before you arrive at your destination, move your valuables to the trunk. Doing so when you get there is potentially dangerous, as someone might see you.

10. Don’t leave your insurance and registration papers in the car; a thief could convince a police officer that they simply borrowed the vehicle from you.

Did you know? Some thieves can steal your car in less than 30 seconds.

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A history of roads in Virginia: State system approved; WWI interrupts progress

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Route 1 near Dumfries as it appeared (from left) in 1919, the early 1930s, 1989 and 2006.

During its 1918 session in Richmond, the General Assembly approved establishment of the first state highway system, a network of 4,002 miles for which construction and maintenance would be the direct responsibility of the highway commissioner and his staff.

Among the roads to be included was the old Valley Turnpike between Winchester and Staunton, which still was being operated as a toll road in 1918. As late as 1926, it remained the only hard-surfaced road of much distance.

The so-called Richmond-Washington Highway, the often muddy predecessor of U.S. Route 1 and Interstate 95, also was included in the system. At the time, it was gravel and soil except for a short section of concrete south of Alexandria and a short macadamized segment north of Richmond. As on many roads, cars frequently had to be pulled by other vehicles or by horses through swamp-like areas in rainy weather and in winter thaws. A fully paved Route 1 was not completed until 1927.

In 1918, the legislature also continued the convict road force, but limited its use to the new state system. In 1922, a law authorized the commission to expand the system each year by an amount of mileage equal to 21 /2 percent of the original system. Subsequent additions also were made by other legislative action.

In an extra session in 1919, the General Assembly made a significant change in commission organization. It was expanded from four to five members, who were to be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. More importantly, members were to be private citizens chosen to represent major geographic regions of the state. In addition, the governor was to appoint the commissioner, who would administer day-to-day operations.

Virginia’s road development was about to be interrupted, however, by circumstances far beyond the state’s borders with the outbreak of World War I. Coleman spoke of it this way:

“The year opened up with orders from the federal government restricting the use of all cars and the practical confiscation of road materials for war purposes. The declaration of war by this country was followed immediately by a serious labor shortage and a consequent increase in the cost of labor and materials. These restrictions and increased costs were largely on such road materials as steel, cement, stone, gravel, sand, bitumens, and so forth… Approximately 80 percent of the engineers and specially trained men of the department entered the service of their country… We are making every effort to meet this condition with the funds at hand.”

The state’s population had exceeded 2.3 million and more than 145,000 motor vehicles were registered.

Next up: Financing the roads

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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Roundabouts 101: a brief guide

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Roundabouts are becoming increasingly common on our roads, and most drivers would benefit from knowing more about them. Here’s a brief introduction.

Benefits of roundabouts
The main advantage of roundabouts is that they’re safer than traditional intersections, which present considerable risk for high-speed T-bone and head-on collisions.

When constructed with the same number of lanes as a cross-shaped intersection, roundabouts present eight conflict points compared to 32 for their counterparts.

Moreover, the circular design forces drivers to slow down, which means that any collisions that do occur are likely to be less severe.

Aside from being safer, roundabouts enable more fluid traffic flow and reduce noise pollution. This is because drivers don’t need to stop if the lane is clear and heavyweight vehicles don’t need to use their engine brakes as much.

As a bonus, the central island in a roundabout allows for the addition of greenery.

Safely using a roundabout
When driving through a roundabout, there are certain rules to follow. Drivers should:

• Slow down as they approach the roundabout
• Read the signs to ensure they choose the correct lane
• Enter the ring from the right if the lane is clear
• Yield to bicycles or cars on the left
• Yield to pedestrians who want to cross
• Always move counter-clockwise
• Keep moving, unless there’s an emergency
• Signal their intentions

If the driver misses their exit, they can simply drive back around the loop.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Aug
22
Thu
5:30 pm Medicare Basics Educational Pres... @ Samuels Public Library | White Meeting Room B
Medicare Basics Educational Pres... @ Samuels Public Library | White Meeting Room B
Aug 22 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Medicare Basics Educational Presentation @ Samuels Public Library | White Meeting Room B
Come learn the basics of Medicare including: Eligibility, Important Dates, Medicare Coverage, Medicare Parts A,B,C, and D and Supplement Options. No Cost No RSVP required Walk-ins welcome For Educational purposes only For accommodations of persons[...]
Aug
24
Sat
8:00 am Safe Driving Class for Seniors @ Front Royal Police Department
Safe Driving Class for Seniors @ Front Royal Police Department
Aug 24 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Safe Driving Class for Seniors @ Front Royal Police Department
Hosted By: Front Royal/Warren County S.A.L.T./TRIAD Are you a senior 50 and over in need of learning current driving trends, traffic laws and just an overall overview of driving safely? If so, AARP provides a[...]
10:00 am Sample an Irish Dance Class @ Jig 'n' Jive Dance Studio
Sample an Irish Dance Class @ Jig 'n' Jive Dance Studio
Aug 24 @ 10:00 am – 10:45 am
Sample an Irish Dance Class @ Jig 'n' Jive Dance Studio
Sample an Irish Dance Class at the Jig ‘n’ Jive Dance Studio. Saturday, August 24th. 10:00 – 10:45am. $2/dancer. Boys and Girls. No experience or registration required.
4:30 pm Front Royal Salvation Army Corps... @ Salvation Army
Front Royal Salvation Army Corps... @ Salvation Army
Aug 24 @ 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Front Royal Salvation Army Corps BBQ Cookout @ Salvation Army
The Front Royal Salvation Army Corps will host a BBQ Cookout on Saturday, August 24, 2019, from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm at 296 South Street, Front Royal. A BBQ chicken meal, including chips and[...]
Aug
27
Tue
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Aug 27 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with the instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply[...]
Aug
29
Thu
1:00 pm Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Aug 29 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
The McShin Foundation and RSW (Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren County) Regional Jail would like to invite you to our substance abuse and recovery summit to be held on August 29, 2019, in Front Royal, Virginia.[...]
Aug
31
Sat
1:00 pm DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Aug 31 @ 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
DJ Skyhigh's End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Come join DJ Skyhigh for his end of summer blast. Lisa Bell will be hosting wine tastings (at an additional charge) of over 50 international wines. Wines may also be purchased by the bottle to[...]
Sep
3
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 3 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]
Sep
4
Wed
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Sep 4 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
Sep
7
Sat
10:00 am SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
Sep 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundraiser @ Skyline High School
Skyline High School Marching Band is having a mattress sale fundraiser on Saturday, September 7, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyline High School (151 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal, Virginia). There will[...]